Obamacare: A Giant Wealth Transfer to the President’s Supporters

August 17th, 2009 at 11:23 am | 9 Comments |

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Obamacare is an attempt at an inter-generational and inter-demographic wealth transfer.  It is an effort to redistribute income and benefits to the core of Obama’s support and the urban precincts of Blue America away from older and suburban Americans.  It is an effort, in part, to insure immigrants and their children.  The winners and losers under Obamacare dovetail with the “cross-tabs” of the 2008 election.  That is, a look at the numbers within the numbers shows that the young and multicultural stand to gain.  By contrast, the older and wealthier stand to pay.  In a campaign interview last year with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, Candidate Obama refused to back down when asked about raising taxes for distribution’s own sake in the midst of a recession.  President Obama is keeping his word.

In the 2008 election, Obama lost the 65-and-up vote, 53 percent to 45 percent.  On the other hand, young voters went for Obama by better than 2:1.  Further, in a break with the past, young voters were actually a greater segment of the electorate than seniors.  As grandma and grandpa were staying home on Election Day, the Millennial Generation was running to the polls. Now Obama’s health plans will squeeze savings from the elderly’s Medicare to fund expanded care for poorer and immigrant millennials.

More than 8 in 10 Americans are satisfied with their own healthcare. The elderly in particular are devoted to Medicare. Americans want improved health and healthcare.  Americans want scientific advances, including strides in stem-cell research.  And yes, Americans want the government to spend money on those programs that stand to help all of us.  What Americans do not want is to be put in harm’s way for the sake of some grand political cause. The president has acknowledged his desire to shift wealth from some to others. He is happy to accept the support of his proposed beneficiaries. He should not be surprised by the resistance of his designated targets.

Yet the GOP should not take too much solace from the president’s travails.  Regardless of whether Obamacare goes down, the country will need to grapple with entitlement and medical costs, the demands of a rising population of aging Americans, the demands of a growing population of uninsured immigrants and their children, the gap in life expectancy between whites and African-Americans, and the fact that combating disease has become the political equivalent of sending a man to the moon.  These are difficult tasks for both parties.

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9 Comments so far ↓

  • ottovbvs

    ……Actually the current US healthcare system represents a mechanism for huge transfers of wealth from US corporations that make and sell things like aeroplanes, computers and construction machinery to financial institutions like insurance companies and the medical-industrial industry. That is why companies from GE to Wal-Mart have lined up behind a major reform of the system.

  • ryanb

    It could also be said that Obamacare is an attempt at balancing the existing inter-generational wealth transfer. Medicare is a giant wealth transfer from the young to the old, thus “the elderly in particular are devoted to Medicare”. Well duh, they’re getting 2-3 times what they put into the system, and the that comes from the young.

  • oldgal

    The US does not have a health care system. It has some health care delivery systems (pretty much non-profit, interestingly enough), and a hodgepodge of private insurance, hospitals and doctors. As a member of a health care delivery system, decisions about my health care are made by me and my doctors (who consult with each other and evaluate risk before any major procedure), I fill out no claim forms, I am covered for things such as psychiatry and acupuncture, I get email and phone notifications when it is time to see the doctor, I can order prescriptions online, I can view and graph (across time) my test results, and I pay 20% to 50% less than the private policies out there. I think all Americans should have an option to choose such a plan – if it takes a public option to do it, so be it. In addition, since my plan has a comprehensive medical database it has always done extensive statistical medical research which benefits us all.
    I am consistently impressed that folks are more than happy to pool their health care dollars for plans whose prime motivation is benefit of the shareholder but are aghast at plans whose prime motivation is high quality, affordable health care.

  • SFTor1

    Yes, a giant wealth transfer is planned. Away from private health care businesses, and to ordinary Americans. That is necessary and fair.

  • sinz54

    Mr. Green’s analysis is incorrect.
    Young people, who voted for Obama in large numbers, aren’t beneficiaries of ObamaCare.

    One element that will survive in ANY likely health care reform package is the “Grand Bargain”: Insurers agree to drop unpopular practices like pre-existing condition exclusions and recission, in exchange for a greatly expanded insurance pool via a mandate that all Americans must purchase insurance.

    That mandate will fall heavily on young people, who often choose to forgo health insurance under the delusion that they’re invulnerable, and save the money for other things.

    Young people DO tend to be healthier than older cohorts, all other things being equal–so mandating that they purchase insurance that most of them won’t need is not benefiting most of them.

    The REAL beneficiaries of ObamaCare are the disadvantaged who are currently UNABLE to purchase insurance: The poor, immigrants with no financial history, and those with pre-existing conditions who must purchase individual insurance. Mr. Green is correct about that much.

  • balconesfault

    For those of you who aren’t familiar with John Cole and Balloon-Juice … he ran a conservative blog for much of the Bush Administration … and then the Terry Schiavo incident occurred. And something flipped in him, and he quit seeing the Republicans as the party that favored individual liberty, and a lot of other things about today’s Republican Party smacked him in the face, and his blog jumped party lines.

    Yesterday he wrote about the current healthcare debate:

    Now that the Republicans have spent the last two months whipping the blue hairs into a froth about Obamacare ending their Medicare, how are Republicans going to pivot and become “fiscal conservatives” again concerned about out of control entitlements, now that they are completely wedded to Medicare as it is?

    Oh, that is right. They will just completely flip-flop, pretend they never said anything the last few weeks, and the media will let them. And to be honest, I’m so sick of the behavior of seniors the last couple of weeks, I might just recommend that the Democrats join the Republicans in killing off medicare.

    Then maybe the old folks will recognize the need for health care reform. At the very least, they might put down their “Keep government out of my medicare” signs.

  • Leslie Hittner

    I offer up an interesting – and I believe accurate – perspective on the ongoing health care debate here:


    The Catholic Church seems to sit in both left and right camps. It is strongly opposed to abortion and euthanasia, but it supports strong social programs.

  • Rodak

    Mr. Green speaks of as “demands” services that are seen as essential “needs” by those who, yes, NEED them. It is disingenuous (not to say uncharitable) to speak of a desire to live on as a “demand.”

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